Carol Johnson-Eyre, Chief Executive Officer, Citizens Advice Wirral

Tell us about your company?

Citizens Advice Wirral (formerly Wirral Citizens Advice Bureau) is a local charity that provides advice to Wirral residents to resolve practical problems they may face such as employment, consumer, debt, welfare and relationship issues. The advice is free, and all our advisors are impartial. Advisors are a mixture of paid staff and volunteers, who are highly trained to Advice Quality Standard. Our 109 volunteers come from a range of walks of life, with two thirds of volunteers aged under 60.

We support people to resolve their issues when they come to us for advice via email, telephone or at one of our advice sessions in over 65 locations including all Wirral GP surgeries. Last year we provided advice to 17,418 individuals on 28,033 issues.

The service has substantial social and personal impact such as keeping people in employment, maximizing people’s incomes so that they do not live in poverty, writing off over £1million worth of people’s debts last year, and helping people manage debts of over £12 million.

Many people think we are funded by the government, but actually we are a local charity that relies on contracts and donations. We value any support the local business community can provide for us whether that’s biscuits for a volunteer event, becoming a business’s charity of the year, to providing advice that help us improve or reduce the cost of IT or phone systems.

"We would like to be more accessible to Wirral residents who may not be able to get advice during office hours."

Where do you want the business to be in two years?

We would like to be more accessible to Wirral residents who may not be able to get advice during office hours. Over 40% of people who currently get advice are in paid employment, but many say it would be more convenient to access the services outside of office hours. We are carrying out an email advice pilot, and will be linking in with the national charity Citizens Advice to explore providing advice via webchat.

What is your background?

After leaving university I worked for 10 year in the Community and Voluntary sector in local organisations such as Merseyside Access to Play and national organsiations such as RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind people). I went on to work in the NHS for CHAMPs Public Health Collaborative for 3 years, and then for 5 years and a half years worked in the Transport sector for Merseytravel.

As a resident in Wirral all my life, I am delighted to be able to use the skills I have developed and professional experience I have gained throughout my career for the benefit of my own community through leading Citizens Advice Wirral.

If you could suggest one thing to Government to help business growth what would it be?

In the community and voluntary sector the competitive nature of bidding for contracts means that organisations are often competing against each other for contracts, rather than working collaboratively. The government needs to support community and voluntary sector to be able to bid in partnership for contracts, building on the key strengths of each organisation.

What do you do to relax away from the office?

I love to read and enjoy going to the gym.

What hobbies do you have?

Playing squash and swimming.

Have you any hidden talents that we don’t know about?

I enjoy singing – but I am not sure how good I am! I am hoping to join a local choir, as I enjoyed being part of a workplace choir in my last job.

What one piece of advice would you give an 18 years old Carol Johnson-Eyre  starting out today?

Be confident; most people are nervous about new things.

Any final thoughts?

I repeat a saying someone told me over 15 years ago in my head before every interview and any presentations I deliver, ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.

Citzens Advice Wirral plays a key role in supporing many people, to find out more about its services then please viist its website here


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